This blog was started as a method of writing observations about faraway lands and seas. But this entry is more about a place where I keep returning…A place that I think of as home. It all started as a 17 year old boy who was not too afraid to venture 3000 miles from home in the Golden State. I had a father who was willing to put up the higher tuitions and dropped me off at SFO with vague directions. The college I attended was technically in New Hampshire, but its western boundary was the Connecticut River, the boundary between New Hampshire and Vermont. Living in a dorm on the bluff above the river, we would walk down to the railroad tracks on the Vermont side to see the nightly 11:07 train as it rumbled by on its way to Montreal…A great study break…. Vermont’s Route Four West was our favorite road, as it took us to Skidmore College and the 18 year old drinking age in NY State.We drove through small towns and beautiful countrysides that turned white with the snowfalls from November to March.
Twenty years go by and Mrs Bear and I live in exile in Texas. My elder daughter picks my alma mater for college…As parents, we discover the surrounding countryside. For example, the Rockefellers built a beautiful Inn in Woodstock, VT to visit Nelson during his Dartmouth years. We didn’t build an Inn, but stayed in lovely small towns while watching our daughter make her way through school.
Another 20+ years go by…Our daughter marries a nice young man who also attended Dartmouth. They buy a second home across the river and claim Bernie as their Senator. I retire, and between sojourns to Asia, Africa, and South America, begin to settle into our family home six miles west of the river. I reminisce, watch the colors change, and simply relax.
A few things about Vermont… There are no large cities. One might call Burlington a small city, but I think of it more as a college town. The capital, Montpellier, is so small it is hard to find or remember once you leave. So mostly, you find villages and towns built around services for travelers. Every village in Vermont, no matter how small, has four things: A cemetery, Church, general store, and post office. The countryside has farms, granite outcroppings, Christmas Tree farms, and small cabins or motels. AND don’t come to Vermont with your Type A Personality. If a road has a 25 mph limit, Vermonters drive at exactly 25…Even the pick-up truckers !!! Everyone stops for pedestrians!!! Or anything (anyone) else crossing the road. I get frustrated by this mentality sometimes, but I always admire it. AND the locals are SO nice. This is the way our rural communities all used to be. So coming to Vermont is a throwback in time. They know how to plow winter roads, make space for bikers, and take care of their own
I love Vermont and feel fortunate to rest my body and mind in between world journeys. And yes, brothers, there is a brew pub on every state highway.